What is a Can of Corn in Baseball?

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What is a Can of Corn in Baseball?
Chris Sloan

Let's take a Look at Exactly What is a Can of Corn in Baseball

Baseball is a sport full of jargon and unique phrases. One of the more curious of these is the term “can of corn.” You might hear this term thrown around during a game or read about it in a baseball article, but what is a can of corn in baseball? In this article, we’ll explore the origins of the term “can of corn,” its definition, examples of “can of corn” catches, the role of a “can of corn” in baseball strategy, and more. Whether you’re a seasoned baseball fan or new to the sport, this article will give you a better understanding of this peculiar term.

The Origins of the Term "Can of Corn"

The exact origins of the term "can of corn" are not entirely clear, but there are a few theories that have been proposed.

One theory suggests that the term was first used in the late 19th century in grocery stores, where cans of corn were often placed on high shelves. When a store clerk wanted to restock the shelves, they would use a long stick with a hook on the end to pull down a can of corn, which would then be caught by another clerk waiting below. This action became known as a "can of corn" because it was as easy as catching a can of corn.

Another theory suggests that the term originated in the early days of baseball when canned corn was a popular snack at games. If a foul ball was hit into the crowd and someone caught it with ease, other spectators would shout out "that was a can of corn!" in reference to the ease with which the ball was caught, just like grabbing a can of corn off a grocery store shelf.

Regardless of its true origins, the term "can of corn" has become a part of baseball vernacular and is still used today to describe a routine catch in the outfield.

The definition of a "Can of Corn"

A "can of corn" is a term used to describe a fly ball hit to the outfield in baseball that is hit with a high, arcing trajectory, making it an easy catch for the outfielder. The term comes from old-fashioned general stores, where canned goods were often stored on high shelves. To retrieve a can of corn, the store clerk would simply knock it off the shelf with a stick and catch it in their hands, similar to how an outfielder would catch a high fly ball. In baseball, a "can of corn" catch is typically routine for outfielders and is usually made without much difficulty.

Examples of "Can of Corn" Catches

"Can of corn" catches are relatively routine fly balls that are hit to the outfield, usually to center or left field, and are caught without much effort. Here are a few examples of "can of corn" catches in baseball:

  1. In a game between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees in 2018, Yankees' center fielder Aaron Hicks caught a "can of corn" hit by Orioles' third baseman Renato Nunez. The ball was hit straight to Hicks and he caught it easily with his glove.

  2. During a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers in 2019, Tigers' left fielder Christin Stewart caught a "can of corn" hit by Red Sox' outfielder Andrew Benintendi. The ball was hit straight to Stewart and he caught it without any difficulty.

  3. In a game between the San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies in 2017, Rockies' center fielder Charlie Blackmon caught a "can of corn" hit by Giants' catcher Nick Hundley. The ball was hit straight to Blackmon and he caught it easily with his glove.

These examples show how a "can of corn" catch looks like and how it is executed in a game situation.

The Role of a “Can of Corn” in Baseball Strategy

A “can of corn” catch might seem like an easy play, but it can be crucial in terms of strategy. It typically occurs in the outfield, where the player has a clear line of sight to the ball and can make the catch with ease. Because of this, the “can of corn” catch can be a key part of a team’s defense.

One example of the importance of a “can of corn” catch is in preventing base runners from advancing. When a player catches a fly ball and then quickly throws it to a nearby base, they can stop a runner from advancing. This is especially important in situations where there are runners on base, as it can prevent the other team from scoring runs.

Another strategy is to intentionally hit a “can of corn” ball, often called a “pop-up,” to get a runner out. For example, if there is a runner on third base and less than two outs, the batting team might hit a pop-up to the outfield. The outfielder can then catch the ball and quickly throw it home, attempting to tag the runner out at home plate. This can be a risky move, but it can also be a successful strategy if executed properly.

Overall, the “can of corn” catch might seem like a routine play, but it plays an important role in a team’s overall strategy and can make a big difference in the outcome of a game.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions that people have about the phrase "can of corn":

Why do baseball players say, “can of corn”?

The exact origin of the phrase is unknown, but it is believed to have originated in the 19th century. One theory is that it was derived from the practice of general stores placing cans of corn on high shelves, which would be easily accessible and simple to grab.

What does it take for one to field a “can of corn”?

Fielding a "can of corn" is considered an easy play and requires minimal effort. It typically refers to a routine fly ball hit directly at a fielder, allowing them to make a simple catch without having to move too much.

Who coined the phrase “can of corn”?

As mentioned earlier, the exact origin of the phrase is unknown, and it is believed to have been in use since the 19th century. There are several theories about its origin, but no one knows for sure who coined the phrase.


Overall, the term "can of corn", just like a GIDP, has a rich history in baseball, dating back to the early days of the sport. While the exact origin of the term may be unclear, its meaning and significance on the field are well-known to players and fans alike. As a routine fly ball that is easily caught, a "can of corn" may seem insignificant, but it can also serve as an important strategic tool for teams looking to control the pace and flow of a game. Ultimately, whether you're a seasoned baseball fan or a newcomer to the sport, understanding the meaning of "can of corn" is an important part of appreciating the game's rich history and culture.

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About Chris Sloan

Chris Sloan is a former baseball league commissioner and travel baseball coach who has made significant contributions to the sport. In 2018, he founded selectbaseballteams.com, a website that helps parents find youth and travel baseball teams in their local areas. Since its launch, the website has experienced impressive growth, offering a wealth of resources including teams, news, tournaments, and organizations. Chris's unwavering passion for baseball and his innovative approach to connecting parents with quality baseball programs have earned him a respected reputation in the baseball community, solidifying his legacy as a leading figure in the world of youth and travel baseball.

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